Former employee talks about Humane Society shelter

Former employee talks about Humane Society shelter

DANVILLE — City council members on Tuesday night will consider one alderman's request to end the city's animal control agreement with the Danville Humane Society immediately on the basis of allegations of mistreatment of animals.

The allegations are partially based on audiotaped statements of Dalton Darr, 18, of Danville who worked at the humane society shelter last summer. Darr's taped statements were distributed to aldermen last year, and now Alderman Rickey Williams Jr., Ward 1, has written a resolution, alleging neglect of animals at the shelter and calling for the city to end its contract with the humane society immediately.

Pam Hamblin, a Danville resident who has spoken out against the Humane Society at previous city council meetings, said she and several other animal lovers wanted Darr's statements to get out, so they distributed the audiotapes to aldermen, city officials and others.

In an interview Monday with The News-Gazette, Darr said he worked at the shelter about 40 hours a week for five weeks last summer, cleaning cages, feeding dogs and taking out the trash. He said he never witnessed any physical abuse of animals at the shelter but believes the animals weren't being cared for as they should be.

"It seemed like the people who worked there didn't really care for the animals. I just felt like it needs to be run by people who actually cared about the animals and would treat them better," Darr said.

Darr summarized the statements that he made on the audiotape that was distributed to aldermen. He said he saw some workers, who were at the shelter doing community service work last summer, "terrorize" the dogs, banging on their cages, poking broom sticks into their cages but not making contact with the animals. Darr said he reported that behavior to full-time staff at the facility.

Darr said he also described how the dog food is kept in one bin and staff would have him gather up uneaten dog food from the cages at the end of the day and put it back in the same bin. He said some of the dogs were sick and their food would be put back in the bin, too. Darr said he doesn't believe any medical attention was given to the dogs, because he never saw any veterinarians there during his five weeks of working. He said one dog came in with injuries from a collar being too tight around his neck, and staff put some type of spray on it.

Darr said he's heard rumors in the community about inhumane treatment during euthanizations at the facility, but euthanizations were done by full-time staff in a back room where he wasn't allowed and couldn't witness those procedures. He said he would sometimes hear dogs, during those procedures, make noises that sounded as if they were in pain.

"I don't think a small shot would be causing that much pain," he said.


Pete Lary, president of the Humane Society's volunteer board, earlier told The News-Gazette that accusations have been made about neglect and abuse at the facility but no evidence has been produced. Lary, who has been on the board for many years, said he's at the shelter weekly, sometimes more often, and he has never seen any abuse or signs of abuse. He said some people consider euthanizing animals to be abuse, and some do not like the shelter's policy to generally euthanize pit bulls rather than adopting them out.

The city council's public services committee meets at 5:30 p.m. today at the municipal building, 17 W. Main St., Danville, to consider the resolution. Then, the resolution will be considered by the full council at 6 p.m.

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ronaldo wrote on May 01, 2012 at 9:05 am

"He said he never witnessed any physical abuse of animals at the shelter but 'believes' the animals weren't being cared for as they should be."

He "believes" they weren't being cared for as they "should be"?  Should be according to who? Why is this even a story?   Too much credence should never be placed on the viewpoints of people who elevate animals to angelic status.  And a five-week employment period?  I'd bet a dollar to a donut that the ONLY reason that Mr. Darr even took a position there was to try to come up with something that didn't exist.

Case closed.

Reality Check wrote on May 01, 2012 at 12:05 pm

Like many charitable organizations, the Humane Society tackles problems most people don't want to hear about, much less deal with; and does it on a shoestring budget.  The animals they take in are often already sick, injured, aggressive, or have been abused.  They follow policies established by local government and give the animals food, water, clean comfortable shelter, and a chance at finding a real home.  They hold animals for as long as possible in the hopes of adoption.

I have visited the HS on several occasions and adopted my wonderful dog from there.  I found the HS to be clean, organized, and the animals up for adoption all appeared healthy.  The staff was helpful, friendly, and showed care for the animals, petting and calling them by name while showing me through.

Anyone can make unsubstantiated "allegations" and work a sympathetic, misinformed audience into a frenzy.  As is typical, this small negative group is very vocal.  Hopefully most of our elected leaders will pursue the facts, not the rumors and hearsay.  I'm certain the HS would welcome a full investigation, including police interviews of those spreading the allegations.

If you really love animals, get involved: visit the HS for a tour, or better yet, adopt a new family member from there.  Also, if you've had a positive experience with the HS, please come to the meeting tonight, call your Alderman, or post a comment here.  The HS, and the animals they serve need our support.